Publication: Edmonton Journal
Date: October, 2002
page: E1 title: Inside the Tool box author: Sandra Sperounes It's not always easy to pry open a Tool box, especially the one toted by Maynard James Keenan. To say that the frontman for heavy rockers Tool is a reluctant star is an understatement. It's like saying George Bush is only somewhat interested in bombing the hell out of Iraq. Keenan doesn't like the adulation, he's not always happy on the road and he'd pretty much rather have his foot amputated than talk to a journalist. He rarely does interviews, and when he does, he's often humourless, antagonistic and unwilling to talk about seemingly harmless subjects. Don't, for example, ask him about his recent collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. "Is this a Tool interview?" demands Keenan, in a very quiet voice, from the very noisy backstage confines of Seattle's Key Arena. "Let's stick to Tool stuff so we don't insult the rest of the band." So don't even think about asking about the band A Perfect Circle, his side project with guitar tech Billy Howerdel, either. And you might as well forget about asking about Tool's disturbing horror-like videos or Lateralus, the L.A. band's latest experiment in metal, spirituality and unconventional time signatures. Oh, Keenan will answer the questions, even the Circle ones, he just doesn't have much to say. He's vague about his songwriting inspirations. He's not sure whether Lateralus is lyrically brighter than 1996's Aenima and 1993's Underto, which featured songs about sodomy (Prison Sex) and crucifixion (Eulogy). "I think they're all positive. I think they're all parts of the process," responds a monotone voice. "They're all steps." So what step are you at now? "Three-and-a-half albums." But artistically, where are you? Spiritually, where are you? "On the road -- which would be not grounded in emotion." Do you like being on the road? "Sometimes." Do you like being on the road right now? "No." Why? "I'm just tired." And so is most of this interview. In fact, the only time Keenan perks up is when asked why he doesn't like doing interviews. "The music should speak for itself," he says. "Interviews have more to do with personalities that only have a part of what goes on. It's not about me or Danny or Adam or Justin. It's about this thing that happens when these four particular individuals get together. That's expressed in sound which is a far greater communication device than words and a pretentious rock star babbling on about life." By extension, Keenan isn't fond of talking about Tool's songs -- or any other subject matter -- with fans. It's not that he despises his followers, he just doesn't think rock stars should be worshipped. "To get yourself all bent out of shape because some rock star showed up is silly," he says. "If people want autographs or handshakes, they should go into the emergency room and shake the hand of some doctor who saves three dozens of lives a day. We've never run into a burning building to save anybody. All we did is figure out we're irresponsible and couldn't get a real job." So why bother with music in the first place? Why not work in a convenience store or a video shop? "I do this because I'm incapable of doing anything else. I might do this very well, but I definitely can't hold a job at Target or The Gap," he says. "I certainly won't wear a tie and work as a stockbroker. I'd get fired the first day." Gee ... you think so?
Posted to t.d.n: 10/15/02 16:22:05